Interview, Isaiah Jackson

April 7, 1980

Isaiah Jackson (b. 1945) was born in Richmond, Virginia. He graduated from Harvard University in 1966 with a degree in Russian history and literature. He earned his master’s degree from Stanford University and went on to earn a PhD in Musical Arts from the Juilliard School in 1973. After graduating from Juilliard, Jackson came to Rochester to work as an associate conductor, and he has worked with several orchestras across the United States and around the world. Jackson became active with the Musician’s Assistance Fund, a local organization that places young black musicians into orchestral apprenticeship programs. He has also been involved with community organizations such as the Rochester Rotary Club, the Board of the Harvard Club of Rochester, and the First African Baptist Church.

In this interview, Jackson discusses what it was like to be an African American musician entering the field of classical music. He explains why he has avoided conducting in many southern states, and he advises young people to work hard, apply themselves, and get a college degree.

Content Tags


  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s